MLK Breakfast Honors Heroes, Raises Deeper Questions
By Dianne Anderson
One way that Trudy Coleman approaches her Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. annual breakfast is to bridge the disconnect in the community, and draw together unlikely alliances. It also raises deeper questions and probably some eyebrows.
This year’s theme, “Injustice Anywhere is a Threat to Justice Everywhere,” is a quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. that never seems to go out of style. It’s as relevant today as it was 50 years ago.
“African American men are still worried about getting shot and killed every day. The police shouldn’t feel like they’re threatened because of the color of people’s skin,” said Dr. Trudy Coleman, CEO/Founder of Juneteenth Education Technology Mobile Arts Center, Inc. (J.E.T.M.A.C).
Community policing is a concern, and getting police in the door of her events so they too can understand and avoid the communication gap.
At the breakfast, she highlights ways to work toward the goals of equality and access that Dr. King stood for, while promoting positive interaction. Many in the police department come out and shake hands.
Coleman, the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation Regional Director for California, said police should be aware of what’s important to the community. That includes recruiting more young African Americans.
“With the [police] chief being African American, the youth need to see that there are other opportunities,” she said. “Some Black youths do want to be officers, and an opportunity to get connected in a positive way.”
The venue also brings local officials together with the community to bring other pressing issues to the surface.
In his day, she said Dr. King reached across to all walks of life so everyone could grasp the meaning of equal justice. At last year’s breakfast, she invited the Ontario fire department chief, who had just joined the department. She took the opportunity to tell him about how Floyd Clark served 27 years, and was the last Black fireman the department had hired.
“We talked about how no Black firemen have been in the department since Floyd was forced to retire. He said he was going to work on bringing more Blacks into the fire department,” Coleman said.
This time around, her featured guest Bishop Dr. Dexter Kilpatrick brings the gospel youth “Inspired to Workshop Choir.” The youth from Marcus Coleman of the Inland Conservatory School of the Arts will perform an old school musical tribute in memory of Dr. King. The Lifetime Achievement Honoree goes to invited keynote speaker Janice Bryant Howroyd of ActOne Group, the first Black female executive of a multi-million dollar Fortune 500 corporation.
Among several J.E.T.M.A.C. MLK honorees include Terrance Stone of Young Visionaries Homeless Youth Outreach for Community Service. The MLK – Hero Honoree award goes to Elder Young of New Direction Church of God in Christ in Rancho Cucamonga. Directress Biddy Newborn of Raleigh North Carolina, renowned Minister of Music for Shirley Caesar, is also performing. Educational Economic Workshops will be hosted by the Webb Family C.E.E.M., along with many other panel speakers.
Coleman said it’s been important to keep the community and the young people involved with Dr. King’s legacy.
“We don’t want them to forget what King’s legacy is all about,” she said.
Especially at this point in time, she hopes society can find ways to walk together on common ground. Recently, she was very disturbed to see West Virginia correction officers in uniform giving a Nazi salute at their graduation photo.
Part of her event is to shed light on national problems, but also recognizing local heroes that selflessly advance the cause. They will also offer workshops, entrepreneur opportunities, mental health and health resources, and a variety of vendors.
“We’re showing how to perfect unity, just opening people’s eyes to we’re all here. There’s enough space in this world for all of us,’ she said.
Advanced admission tickets are $38 per person, or add $10.00 at the door.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Trudy Coleman, (909) 418-8530.